Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year 2014

My resolution for 2014 is to keep this blog going
 for all you out there who enjoy reading here
 and who draw from it.
 I wish you all a safe and happy evening
 and a blessed New Year.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Visit To A Little Library

Love the classic feel!
On Christmas Day during my travels up and down the I-91 corridor I took a few minutes and veered off the path of the Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways. I made a little visit to a little library. It has been sometime since I made an official library blog post. Well, I decided to rectify that matter and visited one of the four Little Free Libraries in my immediate vicinity and one of the seven in Western Mass. I wrote about these beauties in an earlier blog.

The day had a been sunny, beautifully cool Winter's Day. I was returning from the annual Christmas day tradition of breakfast at my Aunt Sally's house in the Warsaw of the West aka Chicopee, MA. I did, however, experience a minor crisis in my plans as I had neglected to take the address of the LFL with me. I had the full intention of going there when I had departed in the morning. I just blanked. And worse, my trusty smartphone could not access the LFL website fully, so while I could see the little house marker on the map it just wouldn't click. Luckily I was able to use my Aunt's computer. Crisis averted!

I think I have that Garfield
I knew that the drive there would be easy as I had looked it up the night prior. No surprises as it was a pleasant drive to LFL #5625 in lovely, sleepy Wilbraham, MA home of Friendly's Ice Cream (Where ice cream makes the meal!). I made am astute observation as I was enroute to my destination. I passed right by the Wilbraham Public Library on the way there. Mental note reserved.

This being my first trip to an LFL I really didn't know what to expect. Would there be cars there? Would there be people in the house looking at me looking at the LFL posted near the mailbox? I'm positive that if any encounter were to happen it would have been amicable. These people want visitors! That is why they are stewards of an LFL. Still though the introvert in me felt weird parking my car in front of a strange house. I have no issues with talking to strangers. I'm not that type of introvert. The situation was new and required appropriate caution. I wondered if there was a proper etiquette in the visit to an LFL? I was learning this in the field. As Fate would have it the house, neigh, the street was devoid of activity. I was in the clear.

So I looked at this quaint box on the post with books in it; taking it all in. I reveled in the moment of first contact. I had wanted to participate in this novel booklover's experiment and here I was. I approved heartily. The LFL was clean and well maintained. The Wintertime decorations about the exterior added to the spirit of the day. The selection inside was impressive. I really did not know what would be available. Would the books be the cans of beets and artichokes people donate to shelters when they clean out their cabinets? Not in the least. There was a nice mix of children's to adult leisure reading. I would imagine that depending on the locale and neighborhood would dictate the mix of book. Here this LFL was directed towards a younger readership though there were clearly some books for a more mature palate.

The Rose Ring
Camelot & Vine

I really liked this journey of exploration. I look forward to seeing what the others have to offer when I visit. And yes! Thank you for asking! I did drop off two books: Petrea Burchard's Camelot & Vine and Anne Faye's The Rose Ring. They are books I have read and know that others would enjoy reading themselves.

LFL #5625

Friday, December 27, 2013

Bringing The Past To Life

King Henry IV of France
Added to the list of things I want to see more of in 2014: more exhibits and materials going online for people around the world to see, more stability in regions of the world troubled by war and turmoil (we can't have people looting and blowing up antiquities) and more 3-D renderings of historical figures. I know that we have paintings, drawings, statues, Madame Tussauds and the like. What we don't have, however, is accuracy. Yes, I know, in many cases the given historical figure had actually sat for the artist, but you only get so much out of a painting.

This is where 3-D biometric renderings are so fascinating. They add a depth and reality to history. One gets to actually see through the wonders of artistically neutral medical science how these people actually looked. You get to see the height (or lack there of), the true skin tone, deformities saved from the artists' pleasing hands. As a historian I find the reality of these re-creations truly enlightening. Seeing these people how their contemporaries and charges saw them puts their story in a clearer light. The final result of these figures is incredible life-like in art and history.
Queen Nefertiti of Egypt

Unfortunately, what is needed in these cases is an intact skull. Those are few and far between. If you do have a skull is it the real skull or a fake? Yet where you do on both counts the results are quite magical. I give credit to the actors and actresses who have portrayed these figures over the years. They have been the ones who we have relied on to perform this enjoyable task. I take nothing away from their craft. They, along with artists who try to be a real as possible, will always be a part of historical re-creation. These renderings will be a small subset due to the lack of available brain boxes, but where and when they can be done I look forward to seeing them.

As I was reading through the comments on a Facebook posting of this subject one poster made an interesting point. Why not put these models in modern clothes to see what they would look like in the modern era? While that has been done in the past it still would be neat idea to see their modern selves. 

In addition to cool uses for this maturing art form would be applying this science to the non-famous people throughout history. I'm sure some have been done, I just can't dig any up at the moment. Google image search gets more useless every day. Anyhow...

Here is a link to Mental Floss which has more of these images and links to their parent sights.


Nicolaus Copernicus

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

An Act of Kindness

What would you do if you were in your 80s and had about $58,000 burning a hole in your pocket? Take a trip around the world for a wicked goodbye tour? Maybe buy that car you always wanted, but was just too prudent to purchase? Maybe give your home a practical upgrade and just live out the rest of your days in comfort? One anonymous man decided that he wanted to donate it.

People donate money all the time. Nothing really out of the ordinary there, right? There is the old adage you can't take it with you (despite what the Pharaohs thought). No, one octogenarian wanted to something not only nice, but beneficial for the newest generation. He bought books... that's right... ¥6,000,000 worth of books. This man just walked into Kato Shokan, a local bookstore in Kushiro, Hokkaido.

Now let me set up this scene for you. You need to understand how this looked to an average Japanese citizen. This man walked into the equivalent of mom and pop bookstore in Fairbanks, Alaska dropped $58,000 in cash on the counter and said "Go buy a 1000 books each for three grade schools, eh, something the kids would like." I love this guy. One of the school libraries couldn't even absorb all the books. They opened a Santa's Library in a corner in the main hall.

The schools got new dictionaries, grammar books, novels and other materials. This man either had a lot of karma to buy back or he really just wanted to something massively nice before he died. He wanted no credit, no press or adulation for his philanthropy. He just walked in and did it. He surely has a story that he is keeping to himself. Whatever his story is the result is the same - a mark of kindness in the Christmas season.

Here are some links to the story.

Japan Today Story

Rocket News 24 (hilarious video with this link)

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Devolving Library

There will always be books - the great misjudgment.
OK, I've been trying to steer away from the anti-digital stuff, but like Michael Corleone I always seem to get reeled back in. I've touched on this before, but I just wanted to touch on this a little more because I see this evolving paradigm stuff getting actively pushed by libraries on Facebook. It is just driving me nuts. Why continue to run full-speed into the gallows?

I understand that they see this trend as irreversible and they want to jump onto the correct side before it is too late. But it is like the bookstores selling e-readers. When stories (e-book is an aberrative term and I am going to officially discard the use on my site) can be downloaded from the Internet what is the point of the brick and mortar facility? The e-reader can simply be purchased at a spawn of Satan store like Target anyway.

Their collaboration and enabling of their own destruction is on a level of Neville Chamberlain's piece of paper. Their saying that there will always be books is their guaranteeing peace in our time. By actively saying that there needs to be accommodation for e-readers and digital stories is their act of betting against the book. As the ratio shifts more and more what are they going to do with all the free shelf space? I mean as budgets squeeze its quite obvious to me that this archaic thing called the book is going to get the axe. When I sign onto the local library from my smart-phone and rent access to the library server when I am actually going to walk into the damned building? Mark my words this is the Sudeten Crisis of the library as a public functioning institution.

Yes, I know I can borrow movies. Maybe get a tax form. But is that all the evolving library going to be? Is the library simply going to be a glorified Red Box dispenser? Just a few banks of computers? And if you think that won't happen... it already has! My beloved City of Springfield has already proposed it! And this is where I got into a little tiff with a library friend on Facebook. They said it was the future. They have to stay in the game and evolve.Yes, my friends, no books... just Internet access. I don't have to like it and I won't. Libraries were once centers of culture, massive public works projects and national treasures on the scale of the Library of Alexandria. Now I feel that I am writing their obituary.

I don't want to walk into a library without books in them!! The building will be just some starch-white anti-septic morgue. The future is not written in stone. The future is what you make of it. I hope that what I see is only what may happen and not necessarily what will happen. So go borrow a book while you still can.

Applies to buildings as well

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Hey there my loyal five readers! I want to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving! I appreciate the time you spend here reading and enjoying what I have to offer. Your support is what keeps me going.

To help contribute to the wonderful air of food, visiting friends, family and football here is a lovely video which I happened upon in my YouTube travels.

It is Russians Burning Kindles. It brought tears of joy to my eyes.

I suggest watching this in high definition. It adds to the beauty... :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Biblio-dō : The Way of the Book

A few weeks ago I was in a little online conversation. It was one of my book / e-book 'discussions' with a friend. No real need to summarize, but the topic of art came up. I was making the point that with e-books you will lose the artistic value that comprises a book. His retort was that you still have the cover art. While true (for now) the cover art is not the entirety of the artistic value of the book. Who knows what the future holds on that part. E-books are usually translations of real books or attempts by those who hope to have a real book published someday. What happens when the books are gone and authors simply write stories which are meant for e-readers? Will there still be cover art for non-existent covers? Besides, the cover of the book is just the first page.

The artistic value of a book is far more than just cover-art. That is if the book even has cover art. Many books have amazing cover art and detailed illustrations. Some truly beautiful books are not graced by the flowing locks of Fabio. Some completely eschew the gaudiness of pop art and go with a stark font and say their title with direct authority. 

The book is a three-dimensional object, not an abstract breakdown of ones and zeros. The book itself is worked and crafted. Many books draw the attention to the spine with a fantastic design. Others have their edges gilt. Others their covers embossed. The author (or more likely the publisher) has a plethora of ways to express themselves in their design.

Still though the plainest book still has the weight and feel of a book. It has the smell of a book. It can hold a real bookmark. It is a book. Even the cheapest, plainest, most drab and dullest of books still lays claim that it is a real book. It can be held with no chance of its batteries dying withholding its information or story due to failing technology. So the book need not be old or a collectors edition to be a work of art. That dog-eared, bruised and battered, aged and worn piece of literature still holds title to memories and tactile comfort.

'Book sniffing' it is something that maybe you've heard about. If you haven't then go and find out for yourself. For the longest time, I really thought that I was the only one who truly enjoyed sniffing that aroma. Then I made that connection and discovered that another too found that smell pleasurable. It was a special moment. I wasn't alone on that front. A couple years later the memes started floating around. There were more, we were a community. It was definitely another artistic aspect in the Way of the Book which many of us enjoy.

That is not where the artfulness book ends. There are other creative aspects which can be explored such as the presentation of the book and their strength in numbers. A coffee table with a book is a conversation starter. A book thrown at someone sitting at a coffee table is a conversation ender. See... art! Books lead to bookshelves onto book cases onto libraries then into museums. That is something which cannot be achieved digitally. Oh yes, the great selling point of the e-reader. I can store a million books in it! Wonderful, I'm happy for you. Can you read a million in a day? No. That is not art. There is art in walking up to your bookshelf. Enjoying the Feng-shui of how you arranged it. Being greeted by the pleasant aroma. Drawing your finger along the spines as you decide what you want to read. That is art. Scrolling through directories or inputting names into query functions is tedium. 

So it is up to you. Do you want anti-septic and sterile or multi-faceted centuries-developed art in your hands?

Note: The book sniffing comic is by

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Student Book Clubs of Yore

*Sigh* Stillsuits covered the head.
Back in days gone by when I was a kid in school one of the annual events which I loved was book day. It wasn't just one day, actually it was two. The day that the catalogs came and the day that the books came. Those were great memories. The days of the Troll and Arrow books clubs with our Weekly Reader supplemental materials.

These were events that stopped class - always a special occasion! On catalog day we received our hallowed missives. Bright and vibrant full-color leaflets of about 5 to 8 pages. The books offered had a wide range. There were the cheesy 'cool' educational gems chocked full of mental nutrition. There were the actual mainstream children and teen books. There were the stereotypical girls and boys books. And finally there were the 'which-way books' - I lived for those.

Now back then I wasn't the reader that I am today. Oh, I had times when I would read quite a bit, but I wasn't 'a reader'. I would more often have my nose in my Dad's old encyclopedias than reading something like an actual novel. My peers of the day were much like me. The girls of the class were more like to be the deep readers. We boys were the dabblers. However, book day was event that crossed all borders and got us guys interested. I can speak from actual experience here. Everybody in the class usually ordered something. That event was in the Fall. It was one of the early class bonding activities.
*Woot* Break dancing!!!

Then the year would drag on. Winter would bestow its blessing of snow days. Tests, quizzes, exams, book reports, oral presentations, poem memorization all would serve to cloud the memory of catalog day. Then with the coming of the Spring amidst its bounty of flora and fauna the boxes were delivered. That was always a magical day! Almost every year I would have completely forgotten what I ordered. Names were called and happy students walked back to their desks with their treasured stacks.

Those days are among my happiest school memories. I feel that those book club days really ingrained in me an appreciation of the book as an object of happiness. As I stated earlier, I wasn't really a reader. I wasn't really buying books to read, but books to enjoy.

I am fairly certain that all these companies either were a part of or have been acquired by Scholastic. I did a little delving to see when these programs started but it seems to have been one of those slow morphs over the past century or so. I did stumble upon the Scholastic timeline which is pretty cool.

I fear that this really is a thing of the past. At least this is how I look back at my pre-Internet e-Nothing childhood and  interpret this feeling. I'll save you all the 'Damn you all to Hell! You blew it up!' e-reader rant save that kiss these happy memories goodbye kids. There will be no box of books - just an instantaneous e-reader download. *sigh*

Please note, the year of this catalog is 1985. In 1985 I was in 7th / 8th grade. So these catalogs would have been distributed to the little brats two grades behind me.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Small Victory

Those of us who feel that real books are the true and honest form of the book know that we are seeing the beginning of the end of this noble art form. Those who have sold their souls over to e-readers will sit and try to explain away the very fact that they are helping to end the very art form they purport to love. They love to say that the real book will never go away. Oh, they say, you are just over-reacting. Tell that to the 8-track tape.

However, there is a sliver of hope. No, the e-reader is not going away. They will continue to contribute their non-biodegradable carcasses to over-satured landfills and spew carcinogenic EMF pollution for centuries to come. Hark! There has been a push-back from like-minded souls. We may be the Charge of the Light Brigade, but we will not let the book die without a fight. Look at this picture my friends and take some heart. The message is getting out there.

This was the question at Grammarly on Facebook (like them!):

These were the top two answers!!

Look at those likes!!! 705 for those who prefer real books... wishy washy support, but their heart and their reasoning is in the right place. 419 brave souls took the bold step to state THE TRUTH!!! And, of course, there is the *ahem* ABSOLUTELY WRONG, nervous, hand-wringing, shamefully politically correct statement trailing in a distant third place.

It was a good day. We will not go down without a fight my brothers and sisters. Every chance you get you get deep into the conscience of those who are blindly following the Pied Piper. Every day you fight is a another day we have real, honest books in this world to enjoy.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Aileurobibliophile's Burden

*Sigh* Where do I start...

Hey? Do you mind?

This is the life of the aileurobibliophile. Over the years I can not completely tally the amount of times I walked out of the room to return to find this scene. Go out to get a drink and come back to find my previous spot occupied. Other times I have been minding my own business, relaxing with a good book only to have my cat interpose himself between myself and the book.

Yes! You, dummy!

Being a cat owner for most of my life I understand that the nature of the cat puts himself in the center of the universe. I understand this completely. But is the threat of the book to the cat so offending that he must physically put himself me and the offending object which commands my attention? On many occasions I have put the book aside to shower him with affection. He knows that our bond is true. Yet still he is jealous... or is he?

Oh. I get half. I thank your benevolence.

Could he be seeing the fascinating connection that I am having with this mystical object? Is he understanding that this magical tome is something 'interesting' and 'fun'? Is he simply trying to join in with the fun that his human is hogging all to himself? Is he sitting there pondering, wondering why the large overlord is not sharing this wonderful toy with him? This toy which does not smell of tuna or catnip. Neither dazzles like the red dot nor tinkles like the elusive rubber ball. Is he too trying to join in on the reading enjoyment?

You're doing it wrong! You need to look at the words!

This ancient stone talisman unearthed from an ancient Babylonian dig shows that this occurrence is not new. We book-loving cat fanciers have been dealing with this constant battle for attention between feline and the the written word. Perhaps the sensitive nose of the cat too knows the joy of sniffing a good book. The aroma of which tantalizes the senses and comforts the soul. Perhaps the cat is wondering why for someone who can't smell nor see in the dark like a decent person holds his nose away so far?

Worries of the ancients too.
Perhaps the truth is that he has already read the book while you were away. Ignoring him, quite obviously. Leaving him to scratch his own ears and to entertain himself. 

What the cat THINKS he's doing.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Hemingway Museum

Nestled down in the warm Florida Keys is the Hemingway museum. I have had the personal pleasure to visit this museum back in the mid 90's. It truly is a lovely plot of land. The Hemingway Home was built in 1851. It was not originally the Hemingway's but was purchased and reconstructed when he returned stateside from Europe.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the author. He was an extremely talented writer and personal participant as a soldier / field reporter in both World Wars and the Spanish Civil War. He writing is extremely well-crafted prose with a truly hands on feel for what he is writing. His life was full, but ended tragically on July 2, 1961. His life spanned the massive generational and cultural changes which swept through the nation in the first half of the 20th Century. His writing from A Farewell to Arms to The Old Man and the Sea told the tales life's struggles. In 1954 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. There is so much more to tell that can be included in a blog post.

The Hemingway Museum preserves and tells the life of this man who had a tremendous impact on the literature of the times. One of the more curious aspects of the museum is the Hemingway Cats. In his will Mr. Hemingway left funds for the care and preservation of his famous polydactyl (six-toed) cats. The first of which was given to him by a sea captain down in the Florida waters. Now up to 50 cats are cared for and live on the premises of the museum.

More toes = more cat to love!

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Healthcare Law and Libraries

It has been reported in the Associated Press and other news outlets that the Obama Administration has decided to enlist the nation's library system to assist people in signing up for ObamaCare. On June 30, 2013 in a special information session at the Washington office of the American Library Association the plan was presented to public. Using the nation's library system is just one part of the massive brainwashing effort ahead of parts of the law taking effect this Fall.

I'm sorry if you support this plan. I am not discussing the demerits of this law. This idea of shanghaiing libraries to act as carneys for ObamaCare is stupid, plain and simple. It is one thing to have public computers available to which people can use them to enroll. It is clearly another thing to be asking librarians to actively be a part of the signing up process. If I want to know where I can find Pride and Prejudice and Zombies I will ask the sweet 90 year old lady behind the counter. She should not be obligated to answer questions on how to fill out the form to get the free ObamaCare contraceptives. She should just be able sit there and point to the computer and go on about her business. Now before you say that I am overreacting go read the ALA page for yourself. That is active participation, not just being a passive outlet for information distribution.

I absolutely love this quote from their page.
Institute of Museum and Library Services Director Susan Hildreth emphasized that “there are no federal funds to support this program,” which could be a hardship for libraries that are already overwhelmed by shrinking budgets and increased use.
Wow... great... And when you go to the public panhandling for funding you are going to wonder why nobody is going to be receptive to you. You are destroying your neutral brand with this nonsense (I could use a stronger word here). I am so sick of liberals in the academic establishment who think that they own the whole show and just don't care that they are alienating half the country.

At least the NFL was smart enough to tell Obama to go take a hike.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Markings on Paper

You just woke up in your cell, said your morning prayers, had a little breakfast, now you are ready to work. You walk solemnly to your desk and workstation. You were lucky enough to get one next to the window. It is one of the few perks of your monastic life. The smells of a medieval monastery may not be the best, but it is better than most places you can live and work in. There is always some incense burning, the aromas of wood, wax, paper, ink disguise the less tolerable smells. It was a nice clear night out. Certainly a nice enough night to allow the shutters to remain open. The Godly fragrances of the Spring are a blessing this time of year. But there is something else in the air. A new smell, one that is unfamiliar in your work area. What is it? Its pungent. Something one would smell near a latrine. This certainly is not normal. But where? Alas, oh well, the new smells of paint and ink will whisk that nasty odor away. Time to get to work... Dang it all!

Hic non defectus est, sed cattus minxit desuper nocte quadam. Confundatur pessimus cattus qui minxit super librum ostum in nocte Daventrie, et consimiliter omnes alii propter illum. Et cavendum valde ne permittantur libri aperti per noctem uni cattie venire possunt.


 Here is nothing missing, but a cat urinated on this during a certain night. Cursed be the pesty cat that urinated over this book during the night in Deventer and because of it many others [other cats] too. And beware well not to leave open books at night where cats can come.

Waste not, want not! Our intrepid writer is not about to start over again. What he does do is leave this handy advice to the lucky owner a book peed on by a cat in the night. I love history.

Photo of the manuscript credited to the Historical Archives of Cologne

Original Link for this manuscript image Here 

Here is another link that I just discovered detailing this image above and few more humorous markings of cats immortalizing themselves on print! 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

When You Read You Score!

True in so many ways! What I am talking about in particular is the partnership that my hockey team The Boston Bruins has with the Massachusetts Library System. The Bruins have been doing this since 2009. I am a big fan of creative cooperative ventures like this. It is a win, win situation. The kids obviously win because it is great to hear from athletes that, yes, reading is important. Children are used to seeing this effort from more 'bookish' individuals, not from athletes. Those children are getting positive reinforcement from a non-traditional source. And yes, people like me who are fans of both libraries and the Bruins win because I get to see my team support a great initiative.

And why do I say that? Because they are coming to a library not that far away from me - the East Longmeadow library!

It is not known at this time if any of the players are showing up to the event. Blade the Bruins mascot will be there and some representatives from the team. The event is still a little fluid at the moment. The event will be restricted to those children who are a part of their Summer reading program. So if you are interested it is advisable to enroll your child in the reading program. It sounds like a great event.

Here is the official link from the Boston Bruins page on this initiative.

When you read you score!

Looking at the list of prizes the children can win I know which one I want to win. The Grand Prize! A chance to ride on the Zamboni! I believe that as a child 12 and older I do qualify for that prize!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Update: Holyoke City Hall Stained Glass Windows

Hello friends, here is a quick update that I have for you. In an earlier blog post I detailed the efforts to save and restore some century-old, beautiful stained glass windows in the Holyoke City Hall. Well, I was contacted by Jeffery Bianchine who notified me of a Facebook page dedicated to saving the windows. This is saving history and art in my birthcity. So yes, I am very much in support of this effort!

Please visit and like this page!

Save The Stained Glass Windows (Facebook Page)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Medieval Manuscripts Online

I have written in prior blogs on the many advances in digitizing old media. This movement continues to make available hidden treasures to a much wider audience. Yes, actually being in the presence of these materials will always be the ultimate goal. Still though, getting the chance to actually see these documents from afar is a triumph of modern technology.

I fully understand that this is nothing new, but still I marvel at the images when I see them. What I have for you today is the Medieval Document Collection of Western Michigan University. I really love when these gems find their way to me. There are a good number of documents online, but what I found most fascinating was prayer book written by and for nuns.

The Luna Imaging technology is amazing on how they brought the book to life. Note, for those of you who know of my antipathy for ebooks, this is the exception to the rule. This is a book which obviously one cannot take home and add to your personal library without doing time in Sam Quinton (Yes, I know it is San Quentin! I call it Sam Quinton!!).

The book is a beautiful document. Should you be highly skilled in Latin and Flemish you can actually read it too. Sorry, Sir Kate, my Latin is just not that good; however, I fully appreciated the book's presence. This is medieval art and literature and, oh, how I love it.

A funny thing, one often thinks of monks and fraternal orders performing scrivener's work - and not nuns. This was an interesting discovery to see that, at least in the 1500's, women had a role in the making of books. I wonder if they bound the book as well? Interesting.

Here is the book which I invite you to enjoy. Prayer Book for Nuns

And here is a screen shot I captured of the book... enjoy!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

It is a dream I have...

Books and food - a winning combination.
Every now and again there comes a perfect gem of an opportunity. This opening of chance grabs you out of the audience like Monty Hall and offers with an extended hand. You stand there and ponder. Sometimes you are in the correct position and are willing give whatever you can to take it. Other times you must simply be content with the pleasant dreams. The hope girding you that one day will come the day that you can grab it with both hands.

A bookstore is for sale in Britain - very cool in itself. Wait, it gets better. The Loch Croispol Bookshop is a bit off the beaten path. So no, it is not in London. Not in Manchester either. Edinburgh? Aberdeen? Inverness? Try a little further north. Try Durness, Scotland. It is probably an easier commute to Norway than London. Yes, Vikings probably landed nearby. This place is for sale.

Now sadly it is not in the cards at the moment for me pounce on said opportunity. Oh, how I would love to run a bookstore in the northern sticks of Britain. To get lost in the bountiful myth and history of the landscape, to enjoy the peace and quiet of the night air of the loch, to be away from the indelicacies of urban living - they all call to me. I would love to run that place though I fear I would be more the kid in the candy store.

Though she be but little, she is fierce! This bookstore run by partners Kevin Crowe and Simon Long is a success story. This endeavor of 14 years took a pottery shop in the middle of nowhere and made it into bookstore / restaurant / art shop. In its peak season it was a tourist destination for the heartier bibliophiles. All year round they ran a tidy business over the internet. Crowe and Long also went the extra mile and researched books for customers. They made it work.

Now they want to retire and hand the reins over to a new owner. From the BBC newsclip I watched it certainly was a labor of love. Their dedication made the place a success. As you are all well aware running a bookstore is not the easiest thing in these modern days. They proved that anything is possible. I hope that they find a buyer who will continue the dream and make it their own.

I tried to access the Loch Croispol Bookshop's website to dig a little deeper, but unfortunately the server was non-responsive.

So if you have at least £120,000 in Scots Legal Form burning a hole in your pocket and a real love for books then maybe this offer is just for you.

Here is the PDF file of the actual sale Loch Croispol from Ewan, Harris & Company. Great photos and some interesting reading.
Here is a link to the BBC article. For sale: Britain's most remote bookshop
Here is the actual link to the Loch Croispol Bookshop. It didn't work when I tried, but maybe you are just a little bit luckier.

Just imagine those rolling fields and mountains... beautiful!

Monday, April 29, 2013

On Facebook!

Hello my friends! Just a quick note to let you all know that this blog does have a presence on Facebook. Feel free to stop on over for a visit. I've actually had the page up for some time now, but never really did anything with it. However, I intend to change that and give it some new life.

And thank you all for your patience in my recent hiatus. I intend to get back to blogging regularly again. My various projects have settled down a bit allowing me the time to bring you the quality posts you have come to expect from A Day In The Lyceum.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Saint Valentine's Day!

I hope that you, my friends, are having a great day out there. Might I suggest that a trip to a local museum is a wonderful way to show a loved one that you appreciate them in your life. If you don't mind traveling or happen to live near Virginia then perhaps a trip to the Valentine Richmond History Center is a lovely idea - after all 'Virginia is for lovers'. 

Valentine Richmond History Center Museum
President Washington presented with a fasces.

Taken from their website:

The mission of the Richmond History Center is to engage, educate, and challenge a diverse audience by collecting, preserving, and interpreting Richmond's history.

The history of the institution begins with Mann S. Valentine, Jr., the museum’s founder, who made his fortune with the creation and production of Valentine’s Meat Juice, a health tonic made from pure beef juice. As did many men of his era, Mann collected artifacts. His collection may have begun, as rumored, with a cigar box filled with arrowheads, but it soon grew to comprise hundreds of objects.

Mann shared his love of history with his brother, renowned sculptor Edward V. Valentine. Mann laid the foundation for the museum in 1892; when he died in 1893, he provided the original bequest for the Valentine Museum, leaving his personal collection of art and artifacts and the 1812 Wickham House.

The Valentine Museum, the first private museum in the City of Richmond, opened in 1898; Edward Valentine served as its first president from its opening until his death in 1930. In his own will, he left an incredible collection of his sculpture, papers, furniture and memorabilia to the museum that still bears his family name.

Over time, the institution has evolved from a general art and history museum to one focusing on the life and history of Richmond, Virginia. For more than 100 years, the Richmond History Center has collected, preserved and interpreted the materials of Richmond's life and history. Through its collections, exhibitions and programs it reflects and interprets the broad issues and diverse communities which define the history of Richmond and its surrounding counties. The History Center is the only institution in the city committed solely to this mission.

The Richmond History Center offers major changing exhibitions, which focus on American urban and social history, costumes, decorative arts and architecture. The History Center includes the stately 1812 Wickham House, a National Historic Landmark and outstanding example of neoclassical architecture featuring rare wall paintings.
The museum does host some fascinating exhibits: 
  • Edward V. Valentine Sculpture Studio
  • Wickham House and Collections [This exhibit depicts life in the early 19th Century.]
  • Settlement to Streetcar Suburbs: Richmond and Its People
  • Creating History: The Valentine Family and Museum
  • Signs of the Times [This exhibit depicts vintage neon signs.]
The museum also hosts an online service for those who can't make it to the museum itself. The current exhibit is: History, Ink: The Tattoo Archive Project. While I have my personal issues with the tattoo fad they do have some fantastic designs on display. 

So if you are in the Richmond area be sure and check this place out. And... I have feeling that I am going to be visiting Richmond again in a future blog... but where shall I be going then?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Crazy Bookshelves!!

I've been seeing more and more of some very unique bookshelves appearing on Facebook and other social media sights that I visit. What do you think of them? Would you use one of these to showcase your collection? Perhaps in a spare room? In your man-cave in the basement? Kids' room? We certainly live in interesting times, but I think this development is a positive if not a little wacky spin in the mix. 

I found all these on Bing image search. There are many more. What are your favorites?


The tree is pretty cool. I can see this in a child's room. Something a little offbeat, but still it has room for plenty of books, maybe a plushy or two. I like it. 


This one is definitely more for a den, not a bedroom. Downstairs back wall with a few comfy chairs nearby. Works.


This one is a certainly nice for the living room. It is small and unobtrusive. It is not screaming that, "Yes, you have entered the house of a seriously demented individual." It is a good conversation piece.

This one is for the bedroom. Oh... yes it is. It has that manly swagger to it. Something that I am quite familiar with. It is one where I look at it and say "Yes sir, it is great being a man - I concur. What shall we read today?"

Saturday, February 9, 2013

With Regret We Must Inform You That...

The Snow Library has been closed today due to... snow.

It is total Snowmageddon here in lovely Wintery White Western Mass. Nemo has dumped a good two feet plus in areas. Today is a great day to find a good book, curl up with some hot chocolate and relax for awhile.

Funny thing, while I was reading the history tab on this library the original library was destroyed by fire during a blizzard back in '52. Snow is not friendly to this poor place. While outside of my stated area being a library out on the cape it still looks like a cool place to visit.

Anyway, stay well-read my friends.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Tax Forms @ The Library

For we in the United Stated it is now tax season. Joy... Yeah, I know. Now many of you do your taxes online. Some go to a tax preparer. If you are like me and like to do your taxes yourself then obviously you need a few of the hundred million forms available. I used to go to a preparer and did them online for a few years, but honestly it was an unnecessary expense. The question is... where do you get the forms? For years the Post Office used to have all the forms available. Now that has been pretty much phased out (as I found out last year - I brought that one on myself). Sure, you could request the forms, but why wait. And maybe it just me, but I have no desire for any interaction with the IRS. I had to go to them for some old records a few years ago and it was creepy. It was like they are judging you and making notes which are going into a secret file. No... let's leave the IRS out of this equation.

What other public service institution can you go to for help? Of course, it is your local library. You would be surprised at the people who don't know this. Now it is important not to get to them too late in the season. As they say in the commercials - supplies are limited. Last year, I waited a little too long to get my forms and we'll I was making some phone calls, but I tracked down what I needed.

So be sure to push this little point to your friends who like to do their taxes on their own. There are people out there who just think that libraries are just books and no idea of the other services which are available to them.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Libraries Need To Stay Out Of The Opinion Business

Last week I saw an article which did not sit well with me. It was written on the subject of The Manly Library's [of Sydney, Australia] reaction to Lance Armstrong finally admitting to illegal doping. The library reacted by saying that they were going to move all of Lance Armstrong's books to the fiction section. The story made a little splash in the world media as it went through its cycle.

I agree with the sentiment that Lance Armstrong deserves what he gets for the doping, playing on the world's sympathies and his cutthroat reactions towards his critics. I was an initial supporter of Lance Armstrong against his critics because I felt that they were ginned up by the French for dominating 'their' event. However, it turns out that Lance was the bad guy and I feel betrayed. Not that I am really into cycling or the Tour de France, but it was just one of those stories you get drawn into.

However justified The Manly Library [love that name] feels in their proposed action it really is the wrong choice. There is plenty of fiction sitting in the non-fiction section. We all have our own opinions of just what that is. I have my list of books that I would love to see moved to the fiction section. You see where I am going with this? This is the kindling that fires up people into making really stupid decisions. We all may feel justified in saying yes the Lance Armstrong junk is fiction, but that may empower people towards attacking another book. The defenders of that book retaliate by saying another book is fiction. This just begs to spiral out of control.

This is only one angle.This is a matter which can also be politicized. Many of those books would also be of a political nature. When you bring politics into the fray then it all goes to pot. The library needs to remain above the fray. It can't be seen as opinionated or political. That makes people angry. Angry people don't fund libraries. So please, libraries, maintain the high ground that you have with the people. They are one of the few institutions remaining which garners a high level of respect with the people.

Here is a link to the New York Post article which I read: